The First Man-Made Man

So I read The First Man-Made Man by Pagan Kennedy not long ago, and I’m going to ‘fess up: this book really bothered me. The research seemed solid. The topic was interesting & book-worthy. But it was also somewhat repetitive, and I felt the plot arch was mis-played; you find out too much of the story upfront, & so there isn’t so much story to keep up the second half of the book.

But that’s not what bothered me so much: the tone of the book was remarkably condescending. The interview with the monk at the end just felt like a dick joke. & A lot of the time, the narration made me so uncomfortable I really just wanted to read the actual manuscript the first trans man wrote, instead. (Although from what I hear, no one seems to know if a copy exists at all anymore, or not.)

Don’t get me wrong: this is a valuable & interesting book & really gets at how remarkably new the tech was; I especially enjoyed the section on the early practitioners of plastic surgery. But it just felt to me that the author never really believed he was a guy at all, which strikes me as a remarkably unsympathetic way to write about not just transness, but about a trans man who was so inexorably alone as a trans person. Michael Dillon strikes me as a remarkable soul who had a tremendous amount of integrity and bravery, and frankly, this book gives you just enough about him to know that the book didn’t do him justice.

Being LGBT Globally

This list was compiled by Chuck Laird from information he found at Wiki.

Algeria – A Fine to 3 Years in Prison
Angola – Labor Camps
Antigua and Barbuda – 15 Years in Prison
Bahrain – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Bangladesh – 10 Years to Life in Prison
Barbados – Life in Prison
Belize – 10 Years in Prison
Benin – 3 Years in Prison
Bhutan – 1 Month to 1 Year in Prison
Botswana – A Fine to 7 Years in Prison
Brunei – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Cameroon – A Fine to 5 Years in Prison
Cook Islands – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Djibouti – 10 to 12 Years in Prison
Dominica – 10 Years in Prison
Egypt – 5 Years in Prison
Eritrea – 3 to 10 Years in Prison
Ethiopia – 10 Days to 3 Years in Prison
Gambia – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Ghana – Not Known
Grenada – 10 Years in Prison
Guinea – 6 Months to 3 Years in Prison
Guinea Bissau – Labor Camps
India – A Fine to Life in Prison
Iran – Death
Jamaica – 10 Years Hard Labor
Kenya – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Kiribati – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Kuwait – A Fine to 7 Years in Prison
Lebanon – A Fine to 1 Year in Prison
Lesotho – Not Known
Liberia – A Fine
Libya – A Fine to 5 Years in Prison
Malawi – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Malaysia – A Fine to 20 Years in Prison
Mauritania – Death
Mauritius – A Fine to 5 Years in Prison
Morocco – 6 Months to 3 Years in Prison
Mozambique – Labor Camps
Myanmar/Burma – 10 Years to Life in Prison
Namibia – Not Known
Nauru – 14 Years Hard Labor
Nepal – A Fine to 1 Year in Prison
Nicaragua – 1 to 3 Years in Prison
Nigeria – 5 Years in Prison to Death
Niue – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Oman – A Fine to 3 Years in Prison
Pakistan – 2 Years to Life in Prison
Palau – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Palestine – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Papua New Guinea – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Qatar – A Fine to 5 Years in Prison
Saint Kitts and Nevis – 10 Years in Prison
Saint Lucia – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Saint Vincent and Grenadines – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Samoa – A Fine to 7 Years in Prison
Sao Tome and Principe – Labor Camps
Saudi Arabia – Death
Senegal – 1 Month to 5 Years in Prison
Seychelles – A Fine to 2 Years in Prison
Sierra Leone – Life in Prison
Singapore – 2 Years in Prison
Solomon Islands – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Somalia – 3 Months in Prison to Death
Sri Lanka – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Sudan – 5 Years in Prison to Death
Swaziland – A Fine
Syria – A Fine to 3 Years in Prison
Tanzania – A Fine to 25 Years in Prison
Togo – A Fine to 3 Years in Prison
Tokelau – A Fine to 10 Years in Prison
Trinidad and Tobago – 25 Years in Prison
Tunisia – A Fine to 3 Years in Prison
Turkmenistan – A Fine to 2 Years in Prison
Tuvalu – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Uganda – A Fine to Life in Prison
United Arab Emirates – Death
Uzbekistan – A Fine to 3 Years in Prison
Yemen – Flogging to Death
Zambia – A Fine to 14 Years in Prison
Zimbabwe – A Fine to 1 Year in Prison

Feminists Have More Fun

As it turns out, a survey has found that “having a feminist partner is linked with healthier, more romantic heterosexual relationships.”

The study, published online this week in the journal Sex Roles, relied on surveys of both college students and older adults, finding that women with egalitarian attitudes do find mates and men do find them attractive. In fact, results reveal they are having a good time, maybe a better time than the non-feminists.


Among the findings:

  • College-age women who reported having feminist male partners also reported higher quality relationships that were more stable than couples involving non-feminist male partners.
  • College guys who were themselves feminists and had feminist partners reported more equality in their relationships.
  • Older women who perceived their male partners as feminists reported greater relationship health and sexual satisfaction.
  • Older men with feminist partners said they had more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction.

(Thanks to Lena and

Tech is Still a Boy’s Game

According to The San Jose Mercury News:

Valley companies based in Santa Clara County ranked dead last in the state, elevating fewer women to executive ranks and corporate boards than any other county.

Only 9 percent of companies in the county have promoted a woman to a top post, according to a University of California-Davis study of the 400 largest public companies in the state. Only 7 percent of corporate boards include even one woman.

But most frustrating of all, said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, is that California companies have shown little improvement over the past three years that Davis’ Graduate School of Management has conducted the study.

“The numbers are abysmal,” said Biggart, the management school’s dean. “What has absolutely dumbfounded me is we look just like the Industrial Belt. We don’t look any different to me. That is the big shock.”

Wow, new boss, same as the old boss. Why am I not surprised? Because I have been in tech offices, & sometimes they feel like locker rooms for the geeky boys. The only thing that’s different is there are no jocks there to beat them up, but it’s as if girls are still kind of scary, & so – not allowed in.

Marc Theda Bara Bolan

I did decide, after seeing the Theda Bara documentary, that Marc Bolan was her reincarnation. (Or a better guess is that Bolan knew about Bara, & was borrowing her vamp for his stage persona.)

What’s interesting to me is that both were the sex symbols of their time – one male, one female – and yet they look nearly exactly alike.

Kids These Days

At least here at Merrimack, they’ve got it good, even though they probably don’t know what’s right under their noses.

They get free films, for instance. I’ve been going to see them, which is kind of funny considering I don’t like most movies most of the time & don’t go see them – not American movies, anyway, or anything contemporary. They’re rarely worth the $10.

But Tuesday night I saw Deepa Mehta’s Earth, which is about the Partition of India in 1947, into India & Pakistan, and which came with Independence. It’s a stunning movie, & I’ve been thinking about the plot and themes and scenes and characters since I saw it. It’s a terrifying film, but deeply moving as well.

Last night I saw one of the earliest Theda Bara films, A Fool There Was, in which she plays her legendary vampire character, and afterwards they’re screening a documentary about her. A Fool There Was made so much money that it helped launch Fox Studios. It’s such a lovely rare treat to get to see a silent film on the big screen.

& In a couple of weeks, they’re screening a film about Dorothy Day, though it’s not the one that I missed when it played at the Brecht Forum in NYC.

Passing (as a Student)

I don’t know what it is about me, but the ladies in the cafeteria & some students (who aren’t in my class) as well as some administrators, seem to think I’m one of the students. It doesn’t matter how I’m dressed, though today, on a non-teaching day, being in jeans & hoodie probably doesn’t help. But even in a suit jacket, I’m still assumed to be a student. (Must be my acne.) There aren’t any grad students around, either.

Still, I’m wondering if I just don’t radiate professor. Probably I don’t, and I don’t think I will when I’m 80 years old, either.

I suppose the anarchy ring doesn’t help, nor do the new piercings, nor does the fact that the campus, in general, is pretty mainstream: sadly, no blue-haired kids, no goths that I’ve seen. A lot of athletes, though; I get the feeling a lot of people here have never met a NYC hipster before.

Writer’s Digest

There’s an article in this month’s Writer’s Digest about “Alternative Fare” and specifically the LGBT markets in publishing, and I was interviewed for the T section.

Boyd points out that people of variant sexuality have always appeared in literature. “There is a long line of novel characters who are gender variant, from The Well of Loneliness to Orlando to Middlesex. I like to think of my work as having inherited a great deal from writers like Gertrude Stein or [Virginia] Woolf.”

The bit that was clipped was my clarification that people have always written books about being in love with someone who is gender variant, as in Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Woolf’s Orlando.

Gay Men, Sham Marriages, & Anal Sex

Sonia in CO directed me to this interesting selection of YouTube videos by the always-astute Wayne Besen about sham marriages, but what caught her eye, and mine, was the comment by Zeke:

Why are discussions about gay spouses and the spouses that they betray, take advantage of, lie to, devastate, degrade, etc. ALWAYS, 100% of the time, about gay men and their victim wives. Why do we NEVER, EVER hear people talking about married lesbians and the husbands that they betray, take advantage of, lie to, devastate, degrade etc.? Lesbians marry men just as much as gay men marry women but yet they are NEVER discussed in the same visceral judgmental terms that are used speak of gay men.

He goes on to talk more about the way men are always villains and women always victims when we talk about divorce, in general. But I think the one thing that Zeke didn’t mention is how people are freaked out by sex between men, because they think it’s all about anal sex. I think that’s one of the reasons people are more offended/freaked out by gay men than by lesbians. I mean, women are also so valued for “being” sexy but we don’t talk much about women’s sexuality either, so I think – other than the uber-femme “fake” girl on girl porn, we tend to think of women who have sex with each other as doing something more like naked cuddling than – pardon my french – fucking.

There’s a story in Judith Halberstam’s Female Masculinity where she talks about this one case, in the UK, a century + ago, where the judges ruled out the possibility of these two female headmasters having sex with each other because – according to him – that wasn’t *possible.*

We also tend to assume women are more loyal, & more emotional; that women who leave a husband for a woman are doing so for love, while men – you know – men are always just out to get their rocks off.

That is, I think what Zeke missed is all the latent sexuality issues going on when we talk about divorce & relationships, & with all the gender stereotypes that come into it.

This, plus the recent Vatican issue, makes me wonder when we’re going to work out that half the problem is that men who come out as gay are villified because of all our own sexual hangups & mythologies.

He’s Come a Long Way, Baby

Charles Busch‘s current production of Die Mommy Die! was reviewed in The New York Times today:

Directed by Carl Andress, “Die Mommie Die!,” which runs a peppy 90 minutes, is infused with the good-natured comic brio that has made Mr. Busch a drag artist whom middle America can embrace. Even theatergoers who don’t catch the copious old-movie quotations, verbal and physical, should enjoy Mr. Busch’s hair-trigger comic timing and rubbery mugging, which brings to mind vintage Lucille Ball. (The association is underscored by Mr. Busch’s choice of red wigs, designed by Katherine Carr.)

I’ve seen a bunch of Charles Busch’s shows over the years – including Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Lady in Question, Shanghai Moon and Times Square Angel – and always find them smart and fun. I even met Joan Jett in the bathroom at one production! So do go if you get a chance, or rather: make the chance.

New Piercing

I’m pleased as punch that I got a chance – right after my keynote at Fantasia Fair – not only to meet the Bearded Lady of Provincetown, but to get her to stretch my previous ear piercings so that I could wear these lovely new omegas I bought in her shop.

She tells me that I can make them bigger in a few months, too. Betty’s starting to worry.

If you’re coming here after Fantasia Fair, do remind me of the resources I said I would post. I know some (a lot) of them are probably about sex, so you might want to start by browsing the posts marked s.e.x. on this blog.

Trans Couples: Jeanne & Diana

There are not a lot of stories of successful transsexual / non-trans partner marriages. One recurring theme that I see is the need for pacing. Unfortunately too many trans-partners once they have their epiphany rush like a runaway freight train towards transition. Like most runaway freight trains these relationships typically end in destruction.

I’m not going to say that there is any one right way to transition. We all know that those paths are as unique as the individuals who tread them. However, if a couple is going to have any possibility of remaining intact each partner must be willing to recognize that compromises will be an integral part of the process.

Continue reading “Trans Couples: Jeanne & Diana”

Gentle Giant

Sometimes when Endymion lays around like this, you can see the seam where they stuffed him full of stuffing.

Of course he became real a long time ago, since everyone who meets him falls in love with him. He’s kind of a gentle giant, sweet-natured, and kinda huge.

Sisters Perpetually Indulged

In SF, two of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence received communion, and Catholics – and Bill O’Reilly – are raising a ruckus and talking about “San Francisco values.” The Archbishop who served them has apologized, but a Jesuit theologian commented,

“The general sacramental principle is that you don’t deny the sacrament to someone who requests it,” said the Rev. Jim Bretzke, professor of moral theology at University of San Francisco, a Jesuit Catholic university. “The second principle is that you cannot give communion to someone who has been excommunicated.”

He said such people are designated “manifest public sinners” in canon law.

“This is someone who violates in a serious way one of the Ten Commandments or one of the important laws of the Church,” he said. “While I can see Bill O’Reilly and others might be offended, the sisters do not meet the criteria the church has for denying Communion. Over-accessorizing and poor taste in makeup is not an excommunicable offense.”

Bretzke added, “Even if these people were bizarrely dressed, the archbishop was following clear pastoral and canonical principles in giving them Communion. The default is, you give Holy Communion to one who presents himself.”

They make me thankful every day I was raised by Jesuits.

But the more important issue, to me, is that the Sisters practice what others only preach.

(Thanks again to Lena for the news item)